A review by Ian MacDonald
Shostakovich in public
While Fay indulges in no further local aberrations on the scale of her interpretation of From Jewish Folk Poetry, she sees to it that her underlying concept of Shostakovich as a Faithful Servant of the Soviet state, only fitfully sustained in the earlier part of her narrative, becomes more overt after 1948 -- gradually building towards a general summary of his position in Soviet culture so calamitously misrepresentative that it surpasses every other warped judgment in her book. She works this trick by manipulating two factors: (1) the relative profusion of public statements "by" Shostakovich during his last 27 years; (2) the fact that he joined the Communist Party in 1960, thereafter appearing regularly to function as its musical mouthpiece. In building her case, surreptitious as it is, she ignores the objections raised in The New Shostakovich about the reliability of the composer's alleged public utterances (just as she ignores everything else in my book, Allan Ho and Dmitry Feofanov's study, and, for the most part, Wilson's work).
Acknowledging that Shostakovich's friends are at one in reporting that he signed articles for Soviet publication without reading them and read out speeches (penned for him by functionaries in the Composers' Union) with eccentric emphases, "significant" pauses, and passages of gabbling in which he ran words together regardless of sense, Fay nevertheless relies more and more on bogus or misdirecting statements published over the composer's signature in Pravda, Literaturnaya gazeta, Muzikalnaya zhizn, Sovetskaya kultura, etc, etc -- concealing his personal remarks, together with those of a similar kind from people whom he knew and trusted, in the forest of footnotes at the back of her book. This is as wantonly misleading as Taruskin's account of the Soviet reception of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. At the very least one would expect Fay to introduce her "official" quotations with a word of caution; instead, Shostakovich is constantly reported as "saying" or "writing" this or that uncharacteristic or foolish thing, while the balancing observations of those acquainted with the real man are, for the most part, downplayed, relegated to the notes, or simply ignored. For example, Daniel Zhitomirsky's "claim" to have written one of Shostakovich's speeches is mentioned by Fay (pp. 200-1) but not a word is quoted from the article in which he says this -- an article containing a description of his experience of writing an official speech about Beethoven for Shostakovich to read in Berlin in 1952, along with some penetrating remarks about the composer's yurodivy performances on the speech-reading podium and the following categorical warning:
There are dozens of speeches and articles catalogued in D. D. Shostakovich: Musicological and Bibliographical Guide (Moscow, 1965) as having been published under his name[...] It was a secret to no one that these and such-like articles were written by professional journalists, and only signed by the supposed author. This was a regular, everyday technique employed for "speeches by famous people". Even in the preparation of his articles about music, the participation of the author was a mere formality, and sometimes it was altogether lacking. I can judge this from my own experience as one of Shostakovich's literary "collaborators". (Wilson, p. 328)
Elizabeth Wilson scrupulously assembles confirmatory statements about this well-known fact of life in Soviet intellectual circles (Litvinova, p. 183; Vishnevskaya, Glikman, Slonimsky, Denisov, Lyubimov, pp. 428-35). Fay barely touches on any of this, instead soldiering on with stilted citations from texts ascribed to Shostakovich, together with similar Socialist Realist claptrap from puppet critics whose job it was to turn out such stuff by the yard. In order to do this -- which she does extensively and invariably without any stated reservation -- she slips in a disclaimer on p. 173:
Though he was handpicked by Stalin as an official Soviet spokesman for the Cultural and Scientific Congress for World Peace in New York in 1949, we can be sure that the politically deficient Shostakovich was not entrusted with writing the speech delivered in his name there. That the speeches and published writings -- not of Shostakovich alone but of prominent figures from all walks of life -- that touched even remotely on matters of state policy or image were closely monitored and regulated by appropriate levels of the Party apparatus was accepted procedure [sic]. In an accommodation initially dictated by a keen instinct for survival, Shostakovich inured himself to the dutiful reading of the speeches and the signing of articles placed in front of him. His distasteful predicament was by no means exceptional. He expected others to pay as little heed to the numbing clichés of Soviet public discourse as he did himself. [My italics. -- I.M.]
But if Shostakovich expected others to pay little heed to the "numbing clichés of Soviet public discourse" in the published pronouncements to which his name was regularly attached, why does Fay persistently relay such material as if it genuinely emanated from his mouth or pen? This glaring contradiction lies at the very heart of her book. Worse, though, than mere methodological incoherence is the persistent undertone of slanted misrepresentation which accompanies this. Consider the phrase "an accommodation initially dictated by a keen instinct for survival". What is the "accommodation" to which Fay alludes? Apparently it is Shostakovich's supposedly willing acquiescence to having his name requisitioned for propaganda purposes in Pravda and other such "scriptural" periodicals. (This passage in Fay's book is indexed as "Acceptance of Party authorship of speeches and writings".)
The innocent reader could be forgiven for thinking "What a spineless cynic Shostakovich was!" Yet the idea that he had any say in this matter -- let alone "accepted" it or came to a voluntary "accommodation" with the Soviet authorities on this score -- is pure fabrication on Fay's part. Shostakovich had been paying the Soviet Caesar in this way since he was a youth in the late 1920s. Like everyone else in his position in the USSR, he complied because not to have done so would have invoked apparat vengeance, either in the form of the arrest of a close relative or a sudden closing of outlets for work. Again, Fay's extraordinary (and, one must feel, deliberately maintained) ignorance of the realities of Soviet life serves to mislead the unwary (and, it seems, convince even the likes of the critic Michael Steinberg, whose plaudits adorn the sleeve of this devious book). She continues as follows:
While it would be foolish to accept at face value all the statements and writings ascribed to Shostakovich, it does not follow that he shared none of the sentiments or opinions expressed in this way. Similarly, if much of what was published over his signature was ghosted by others -- and there is ample evidence to confirm that sometimes Shostakovich did not even bother to read what was thrust under his nose -- it still does not follow that he abdicated responsibility for everything attributed to his pen. The matter is not simple.
The first sentence of this paragraph shows Fay's deceitful methodology at its subtlest. In any normal practice, the acknowledgement that a particular source -- in this case Shostakovich's official Soviet statements -- is so pervasively, indeed systematically, untrustworthy (enormously more undependable than the extensively confirmed anecdotes, facts, and style in Testimony) would produce a guilty-until-proven-innocent stance on the part of the presiding scholar in which nothing was accepted from the source in question unless there were very good reasons for believing otherwise. In Fay's hands, this stance becomes the purely logical proviso that "it does not follow that he shared none of the sentiments or opinions expressed in this way". Evidence to justify this extraordinary conclusion should have been immediately placed on record. None is given. (Later, we discover that the only evidence Fay can muster to support her innuendo is the issue of whether Shostakovich approved or disapproved of twelve-tone music -- a question which even she cannot avoid concluding is almost wholly a consequence of confusions arising from the fact that Composers' Union hacks routinely wrote anti-Schoenbergian propaganda under his name.) Ignoring Shostakovich's practice of signing official texts without reading them -- sometimes, if Rostropovich is to be believed, by inscribing his signature upside-down -- Fay contends that "it still does not follow that he abdicated responsibility for everything attributed to his pen". To this claim is appended a single note referring to the Stuckenschmidt affair of 1964:
In a lengthy tirade against avant-garde tendencies in modern Western music published over his name [in Pravda], Shostakovich was quoted: "To this day I can't distinguish, say, the music of Boulez from the music of Stockhausen, that of Henze from that of Stuckenschmidt." [...] Hans Stuckenschmidt was an eminent music critic, not a composer. He promptly set the record straight in a letter sent to, but not published in, Pravda [...] Judging by a number of reports, Shostakovich was chagrined by the embarrassing gaffe. In an interview published soon after, he went out of his way to redresss the error, explaining that a line had been dropped during editing and the passage should have read: "To this day I can't distinguish, say, the music of Boulez from the music of Stockhausen, that of Henze from that music that corresponds to the theoretical conceptions of the music critic Stuckenschmidt."
Fay describes Shostakovich as being "chagrined by the embarrassing gaffe". Sergei Slonimsky describes the composer's face as "darkening" when he heard the Pravda piece read out at the Composers' Union, following which he walked off the stage (Wilson, p. 431). Whether this was the first he knew of this error is unknown. It seems unlikely in that one of his colleagues would surely have pointed this out to him as soon as the article appeared -- in which case, he may have been angry only at the enduring stupidity of those in the Composers' Union who had not themselves spotted the howler. In truth, the "embarrassment" was to Pravda and the apparat for giving the game away. No one, at home or abroad, could possibly have believed that Shostakovich had mistaken a critic for a composer; hence, the ghostwriting gambit was inadvertently revealed.
Meanwhile Stuckenschmidt elected to play it with a straight bat, observing in the West German press: "I did indeed write music in my youth, but never showed it to anybody. How did Mr Shostakovich discover it?" His polite letter of correction to Pravda, as Fay acknowledges, was never published -- unsurprisingly, considering the laughable nature of the circumstances. Zhitomirsky records the Stuckenschmidt story as one of those "funny things" (Ho and Feofanov, p. 431), while Shostakovich can scarcely have failed to see the joke, if only because of the comical way in which he came to sign the article (Wilson, p. 432). Fay, though, presents him as "chagrined" enough to wish to "redress" the error by means of "an interview published soon after". This alleged "interview" appeared in Pravda in place of Stuckenschmidt's letter, offering a correction which, while intended to cover the apparat for its blunder, only served to make things worse with its tortuous falsity: "...the music which corresponds to the theoretical conceptions of the music critic Stuckenschmidt". Does Fay believe that Shostakovich actually uttered these words of excuse to an attentive Pravda reporter? Does she realise Stuckenschmidt's name must have been included in the original Pravda article because the journalist who wrote it mixed up some clippings relating to the attack on Stuckenschmidt and other "Cold War" critics published in Sovetskaya Muzyka six months earlier? Is she fully aware that Pravda was not a normal newspaper such as we are used to reading in the West, but the chief propaganda organ of the Soviet Communist Party? And is this really the only proof she can adduce to support her claim that "[while] there is ample evidence to confirm that sometimes Shostakovich did not even bother to read what was thrust under his nose, it still does not follow that he abdicated responsibility for everything attributed to his pen"? Undaunted, she continues:
As handwritten documents in his archives and recorded responses in interviews and press conferences attest, Shostakovich became fluent in the language of officialese. He was so fluent that he could spin off exquisite parodies in his letters. The archives contain drafts of talking points for official speeches in his own hand. Shostakovich willingly accepted some commissions to provide articles and reviews on topics -- usually musical -- of special interest to him. He routinely commissioned experienced and trusted colleagues to ghostwrite for him, outlining for them his guidelines, carefully screening the finished product, and duly passing along the fees thus earned. He was even capable of manipulating the media for his own shrewd purposes.
"Handwritten documents in his archives" is another subtly loaded phrase, intended to suggest that Shostakovich's fluency in the language of officialese was not just put on for interviews and press conferences, but habitually used by him in private, as if he "accepted" this distortion of his personal style as much as he "accommodated" the apparat by signing their articles and reading their speeches. But we know from his letters to Glikman and from the testimonies of Litvinova and Sabinina that this fluency in officialese was solely part of the composer's repertoire of parody. For his own amusement, he constantly slipped in and out of this mode, straight-faced in the style of Zoshchenko. Take, for instance, the passage in his letter to Glikman about his new bride Irina (Fay, p. 227): "Her father suffered from the personality cult and the infraction of revolutionary legality." In other words, Irina's father was a victim of Stalin's Terror, for which unmentionable fact the phrase "the personality cult and the infraction of revolutionary legality" was the standard Soviet euphemism. With the same deadpan irony, Shostakovich goes on to report that, as a result of forfeiting her parents, Irina "spent time in a det. dom and in a spets. det. dom", which, Fay is obliged to explain,were types of orphanage for children of "enemies of the people". The brutish abbreviations of Soviet officialdom, satirised by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-four, were a grim standing joke to the Soviet intelligentsia. Shostakovich mercilessly includes both applicable abbreviations in this indubitably "handwritten" document. Does it show him "accepting" the language of officialese or parodying it?
As for the "commissions" which Shostakovich "willingly accepted", where is Fay's list of these, together with the supporting evidence a properly scrupulous scholarly approach would demand? Is the sentence "Shostakovich willingly accepted some commissions to provide articles and reviews on topics -- usually musical -- of special interest to him" supposed to be linked to the sentence "he routinely commissioned experienced and trusted colleagues to ghostwrite for him, outlining for them his guidelines, carefully screening the finished product, and duly passing along the fees thus earned"? After all, to judge from Zhitomirsky's testimony, even a speech about Beethoven, a composer whom Shostakovich held in high esteem, was immediately farmed out to a colleague to write, implying that Shostakovich was as little inclined to waste time cobbling together ideological nonsense about composers he admired as he was disposed to read propaganda screeds for Pravda brought to his apartment for signing an hour after he had retired to bed (Wilson, p. 432). And what is Fay's authority for claiming that Shostakovich "carefully screened the finished product" of such ghost-writing? Zhitomirsky, quite to the contrary, specifies that "for the sake of appearances he leafed through my finished text" (Wilson, p. 329). As for her suggestion that Shostakovich "was even capable of manipulating the media for his own shrewd purposes", we discover that the evidence for this, if any, is hidden in a St Petersburg symposium to which she contributed in 1996. Since very few Western readers will have this source to hand, why is there no summary of the relevant material in it?
A careful examination of this key passage in Shostakovich: A Life shows it to be a case of smoke-and-mirrors. No clear statement is substantiated. Every other sort of statement is subtly slanted so as to render ambiguous Shostakovich's unequivocal detestation of the Soviet Communist Party's mendacity and manipulative verbiage. How can we trust an author so slyly intent on inserting her own interpretive agenda into what she pretends is a balanced account of "the circumstances"? Fay's narrative of 1948-75 abounds with such dishonesty, being built on a persistent use of precisely those untrustworthy official sources about which she elsewhere affects to be wary.
Drawing attention to the "political orthodoxy" of the films for which Shostakovich composed scores between 1947 and 1952, Fay (p. 171) quotes from an interview he is reported to have given to a Soviet film magazine in 1950 about his work on The Meeting on the Elbe: "Here, a circumstance that I have previously observed made itself strongly felt -- that for a composer the cinema is not only schooling for mastery but often a political seminar as well." Is the reader supposed to take this seriously? Fay gives no clue. As for the inflated phrase "schooling for mastery", we know that Shostakovich loathed most of his film work, which he found at best exhausting, at worst nauseating. (Further up the same page, for example, he writes -- to a friend -- that film work is unpleasant and that no one should do it unless in the event of "extreme poverty", which is precisely what he was experiencing during this period.) As for the "political seminar" of The Meeting on the Elbe, this was something quite specific, inasmuch as it was one of the first films made in aid of Stalin's so-called "campaign for peace", a passing phase of the first years of the Cold War whereby the USSR presented itself as virtuously striving for universal brotherhood in the face of the perfidious scheming of America. (The film presents Washington as plotting to frustrate Moscow's attempts to introduce "true democracy" into post-war Germany.) Shostakovich, who listened often enough to the Russian Section of the BBC's World Service to know what was really going on, would certainly have found the political line taken in The Meeting on the Elbe "instructive", if nothing else. However, if Fay is trying to insinuate that the composer was earnestly learning his Soviet catechism -- which, for all one knows, she may be attempting by reporting (p. 173) that he had to be assigned "a private instructor in Marxism-Leninism" to remedy "the manifest deficiencies in his [political] education" -- one can only suggest that, once again, her lack of anything more than a superficial understanding of context has misled her.
Similarly, in recording that Shostakovich undertook the composition of The Song of the Forests "without even soliciting a contract", Fay appears to imply that there was some genuine enthusiasm on his part for this obviously "sacrificial" piece -- as opposed to a desperate casting-about for a project which would quickly make him some substantial money (or even a direct order from on high). She quotes a letter from Shostakovich to Elmira Nazirova: "I sat down at night and, within a few hours dashed off something 'haphazardly'; when I submitted what I had written, to my amazement and horror, they shook my hands and paid me." Fay rightly counsels caution here, but of the wrong kind. Clearly, the composer was embellishing the circumstances surrounding The Song of the Forests -- tuning the story up a little. Fay, though, suggests that his anecdote "may not accurately reflect his feelings while composing the oratorio", insinuating that he might actually have been sincere in this venture. The truth emerges a few pages on when she admits that he was then "on the verge of financial catastrophe". This sort of disconnected information pervades her book. By incompetence or by design?
Coming to the Tenth Symphony, Fay fails to divine that the intensely self-critical effort Shostakovich put into this work carried a deeper significance. In effect, this was his second "creative reply" to Soviet official criticism (that of 1948). Like his first "reply", the Fifth Symphony (written in 1937 in response to the events of 1936), the Tenth incorporated a quotation from a song-cycle on Pushkin composed shortly before the main work (Wilson, pp. 247, 263). Fay neither mentions this nor appears to comprehend that Shostakovich was consciously crafting a definitive symphonic statement for both his country and his career at a time of fraught transition. As for the Tenth's most prominent and provocative feature, the DSCH motif, she passes over it with bland incomprehension of its bold symbolism (individual awareness in a culture of middlebrow collectivism). Likewise, she innocently fails to identify the mischief in Shostakovich's spoof "self-criticism" for the lengths of the Symphony's movements: "He fretted that perhaps the second movement might be too short and the proportions of the third unbalanced." One begins to wonder what such a literal mind imagines it is doing by purporting to comment on Shostakovich.
Indeed, Fay can be so limply tolerant of self-contradiction that it sometimes becomes difficult to tell whether she realises how inconsistent her narrative actually is. For example, reporting that Shostakovich "took quite ill and was scarcely able to make it out of the office" upon being told the details of Meyerhold's fate (p. 196), she goes on to describe his alacrity in joining the commission to preserve Meyerhold's legacy, sensibly juxtaposing this with the composer's contemporary quotation from one of Chekhov's letters: "It is the duty of writers not to accuse, not to prosecute, but to champion even the guilty once they have been condemned and are enduring punishment... Great writers and artists ought to take part in politics only so far as they have to protect themselves from politics. [My italics. -- I.M]. There are enough accusers, prosecutors, and gendarmes without them." Fay adds: "He was almost certainly articulating it as a position of principle." Agreed! Hallelujah. This is the gospel according to Testimony, and what the revisionist camp has been saying for the last ten years. But how does Fay reconcile this with her constant hints that the composer was politically conformist and always ready to serve the Soviet state? The suspicion that two or three different Laurel Fays were involved in writing this book is often hard to resist. As for what made Shostakovich throw up when informed of what had happened to Meyerhold, squeamish readers should now avert their eyes.
Meyerhold was savagely beaten by his torturers who broke his left arm and urinated in his mouth by way of encouraging him to sign a "truthful confession". During a respite, he wrote to Molotov from jail, describing his ordeal in the hope of clemency:
The investigators began to use force on me, a sick, 65-year-old man. I was made to lie face down and then beaten on the soles of my feet and my spine with a rubber strap. They sat me on a chair and beat my feet from above, with considerable force. For the next few days, when those parts of my legs were covered with extensive internal haemorrhaging, they again beat the red-blue-and-yellow bruises with the strap and the pain was so intense that it felt as if boiling hot water was being poured on these sensitive areas. I howled and wept from the pain. They beat my back with the same rubber strap and punched my face, swinging their fists from a great height. The intolerable physical and emotional pain caused my eyes to weep unending streams of tears. Lying face down on the floor, I discovered that I could wriggle, twist and squeal like a dog when its master whips it. One time my body was shaking so uncontrollably that the guard escorting me back from such an interrogation asked: "Have you got malaria?" When I lay down on the cot and fell asleep, after 18 hours of interrogation, in order to go back in an hour's time for more, I was woken up by my own groaning and because I was jerking about like a patient in the last stages of typhoid fever. Constantly the interrogator repeated, threateningly, "If you won't write (invent, in other words?!) then we shall beat you again, leaving your head and your right arm untouched but reducing the rest to a hacked, bleeding and shapeless body." So I signed everything.
Meyerhold was shot in prison on 2nd February 1940, a week after Isaac Babel. One of many fine people personally known to Shostakovich who went to horrible deaths in the nightmare world of Stalin's secret police, Meyerhold may stand as an example of what the composer was reflecting on so bitterly in Testimony, a memoir which Fay is keen to ignore and which Richard Taruskin and Malcolm Brown derisively reject.
The Eleventh Symphony
Fay commences her account of "the circumstances" of the Eleventh Symphony with a liberal application of her Pravda Ploy: lots of virtuous-sounding quotations from Shostakovich about his sincere wish to honour the "unforgettable heroes" of the 1905 revolution as precursors of October ("the people who first paved the way to socialism"). She offers a useful account of the protracted period of the Symphony's composition without perceiving that such delays and rethinks invariably meant that Shostakovich was having difficulty justifying a given work to himself. Only after the Soviet-suppressed Hungarian Uprising of 1956 did he finally start composing the Symphony as we know it -- yet Fay, oblivious to such anomalies as the menacing minor-key coda to the finale, is content to describe the work as politically sincere: "A more monumental, accessible, or effective tribute in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary [of the October Revolution] could scarcely have been imagined."
The fact that this same October Revolution had brought the arrests and deaths of many of his friends and relations seems somehow to have been forgotten by Fay's Shostakovich. His dry dislike of the Soviet Communist Party, too, appears to have vanished, along with the "politically deficient" lack of interest in ideology which Fay rightly imputes to him on p. 173. As for the question of a "concealed 'Aesopian' subtext" (associating the events of 1905 with those of 1956 in standard "secret intelligentsia" style), Fay refers to this as "a debate that was engaged posthumously": "Available evidence does not corroborate [the] conclusion [that...] delivering a personal commentary on the events in Hungary was the motivating impulse behind the composition of the Eleventh Symphony." To this statement is attached a note referring to Lebedinsky's article in Novy mir in 1990, wherein he reports that the composer's son Maxim, on hearing the Symphony, whispered to his father during the dress rehearsal, "Papa, what if they hang you for this?" The same footnote refers to Elizabeth Wilson's coverage (pp. 316-320), where we also find the testimony of Zoya Tomashevskaya:
The Hungarian Uprising was still very much in our minds. And here in this symphony one kept hearing "Freedom" sing out. Later I was told by the choreographer, Igor Belsky, who produced a wonderful ballet on the Eleventh Symphony, that, when he consulted Shostakovich, the composer said to him, as if in passing: "Don't forget that I wrote that symphony in the aftermath of the Hungarian Uprising."
Supposing Shostakovich to have been still alive whilst speaking to Belsky, Fay's claim that the question of the 1905/1956 subtext was "a debate that was engaged posthumously" can only be a case of personal prejudice masquerading as objective scholarship. Referring to Yuri Levitin's insulting reply to Lebedinsky -- but failing to mention Leo Mazel's rebuttal of Levitin in judicious support of Lebedinsky's claims about the Eleventh Symphony's hidden agenda (see Shostakovich Reconsidered, pp. 483-494) -- Fay cites Shostakovich's answer "when asked point-blank by his Soviet biographer [Sofya Khentova] in 1974 whether it was true that it was the Hungarian uprising that was rendered [sic]" in the Eleventh Symphony: "No, it is 1905, it is Russian history." Yet to expect Shostakovich to have said anything else to a Soviet biographer would be to strain credulity to breaking-point. As Hilmar Schmalenberg observes in respect of Shostakovich's declaration of Soviet orthodoxy to the East German apparatchik Hans Jung in March 1975 (see DSCH 12), to say anything else -- to Jung, to Khentova, or to anyone else the composer couldn't trust -- would have been to open a can of worms full of further compromising political questions:
Shostakovich's answers followed the "rules" of the time. To tell a stranger that he was not a communist [or that his 1905 symphony contained a subtext concerning the Soviet suppression of Hungarian freedom -- I.M.] would make no sense whatever, because in those days he would have had to expect the question, "what then?". With an answer like this he would have thrown Jung [or Khentova -- I.M.] into a black hole... Shostakovich had his private confidants, but in public the line had to be toed. Whether he would have given the same answers in the era of Gorbachev can be doubted with some likelihood.
Once again, Fay's supposedly objective and balanced "resource" turns out to be a biased misrepresentation of what she selectively offers as "available evidence". On the question of the Aesopian aspects of the Eleventh Symphony, the final nail in her coffin is driven home by none other than the curator of the Shostakovich archive in Russia, Manashir Yakubov (in his notes for the LSO's 1998 Shostakovich series):
Certain people consider the Eleventh to be a compromise, a clear concession by the composer to the demands of "Communist ideology, party allegiance and national sentiment", which Soviet propaganda had imposed on artists. Others, from its very earliest performances onwards [my italics -- I.M.], viewed the symphony as an allegorical reflection of contemporary bloody events in Hungary (1956), where the Soviet Union had acted as "policeman of Europe" and executioner of a democratic movement. The authorities either pretended not to notice (or genuinely did not notice) any deliberate reference to contemporary events in Shostakovich's narrative of a historical revolution, or any other "double meaning" for that matter. [p. 57]
Irina Antonovna has recently (DSCH 12, p. 72) confirmed that Shostakovich had the Hungarian Uprising "in mind" when he wrote the Eleventh Symphony -- a statement which reveals that Fay's unwillingness to interview anyone for her book included Manashir Yakubov's employer in the Shostakovich archive: the composer's third wife herself. Fay's "blind-eye" pseudo-discussion of the controversy concerning the Symphony is rounded off with an account of the official toast which was given to Shostakovich to read at Khrushchev's reception for the cream of the Soviet intelligentsia at the Kremlin in 1958: "Stressing the marvelous creative conditions enjoyed by Soviet musicians and the paternal, sensitive, and considerate guidance given them by Party and government, Shostakovich raised his glass 'to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its Leninist Central Committee, to our own Soviet government, to the great Soviet people'." Fay describes the reception as "a well-publicized pep rally", which suggests that she is at least aware of the ironies underlying her summary. Yet, in the context of her book's persistent recourse to the Pravda Ploy, her report of this speech (printed, surprisingly enough, in Pravda in February 1958) requires rather more than she supplies by way of contextualisation if it is not to be misinterpreted.
The same lack of interpretive assistance to the reader obtains in Fay's otherwise informative account of Moscow, Cheryomushki, where Soviet-published statements indicating that Shostakovich was gladly and sincerely engaged in this drab project ought to have been subordinated to his confession to Glikman (Fay, p. 208) that the operetta was "boring, insignificant, silly... [a] disgrace" and to the explanatory fact that, for the composer, "this was a period of acute financial hardship" (ibid, p. 210). Here we are confronted for the umpteenth time by the overriding disappointment of Shostakovich: A Life: that it provides little, penetrating or otherwise, by way of evaluation of Shostakovich's music. In an unusual display of enthusiasm, Fay refers to the show's "wit, finely-honed satirical edge... and superb orchestration". If these qualities are hard to reconcile with Shostakovich's real attitude to the project, Fay's glowing opinions at least give us something to judge by. Is her praise warranted?
This interminable five-act operetta starts with a prologue in which two bureaucrats enter, notice the orchestra, and peremptorily decree "No music!". Such stuff, it is implied, detracts from the task of improving social conditions by drawing attention to the lives of individuals. In terms of "finely-honed satirical edge", this is about as sharp as Moscow, Cheryomushki gets -- nor does the score, which Shostakovich knocked off during a three-month spell in a rest-home in autumn 1958, dig much deeper. The work, in short, is officially sanctioned satire designed to entertain whilst letting off a little of the Soviet audience's steam of dissatisfaction. Shostakovich got involved with the project partly because his health was too poor to allow anything more incisive, partly to buy time for the next thing he really wanted to write (his First Cello Concerto of 1959), partly as a favour for a friend (Grigori Stolyarov, chief conductor of the Moscow Operetta Theatre), and partly to see what he could make of the material, which was not a lot. That Moscow, Cheryomushki entirely lacks wit or dramatic tension arises primarily from the mediocrity of the libretto (by two hack humourists whom Shostakovich sardonically referred to as "my fellow creators"). The thoroughly lacklustre music can, however, only be blamed on the composer, who shows no sign of having seriously engaged his mind in this waltz-stuffed score, the main interest of which consists in the fact that it has his name attached to it.
Public and private
Fay's unremitting reluctance to distinguish, in terms of dependability, between Shostakovich's official pronouncements and his private views is again highlighted on her pages 214-215 with respect to his function as a mouthpiece for Soviet attacks on twelve-tone music. Again, Fay presents Shostakovich as "reporting" this or that, being "interviewed" by communist journalists, delivering speeches full of "strident rhetoric", and adding to his lexicon such perfectly-tuned examples of Soviet verbal banality as "this still-born art [dodecaphony] gains no recognition from the broad public, it attests to the ideological impasse, the crisis of bourgeois culture". Nearby, we read that Shostakovich privately admired music by such ideologically flawed composers as Boulez, Xenakis, and Stockhausen. We also discover (p. 215) that, in February 1960, Shostakovich "entertained himself by rereading a period novel of the 1920s and penning long missives of sardonic political commentary to friends". No footnote citations are attached to Fay's reference to the composer's sardonic political commentaries, let alone any quotations from these. Is this an adequate report of "the circumstances"? Readers will draw their conclusions from the fact that, on her next page, Fay quotes a May Day "salutation" attributed to the "politically sardonic" Shostakovich (and published, needless to say, in Pravda):
We are reaching communism. To hymn the fairest human society in history is a worthy and absorbing mission for composers... On May Day 1960 I already hear the music of communism. And, looking ahead, I want to summon all Soviet composers, my dear friends, to even more intense labour and new creative successes. Onwards, friends, to communism!
Fay follows this quotation by acknowledging that "in private, Shostakovich was much more cynical about the aspirations and promise of communism". Yet, if she concedes this to be so, why quote anything which Pravda attributed to Shostakovich, let alone this stream of assembly-line propaganda-babble? Why not, instead, bite the bullet and give us some of his "sardonic political commentary"? Is it because Fay, taking a leaf out of the overwrought book of Richard Taruskin, believes that one should not attempt to impose "closure" on the question of Shostakovich's outlook? Or is it because she simply wishes to leave herself room to maintain her prejudices?
A "loyal son"
Fay's account of "the circumstances" surrounding the Eighth Quartet reveals much about the way she conceives these issues. The background to this work is the composer's induction into the Soviet Communist Party during 1960-1. To Fay, this is "one of the most puzzling episodes of [Shostakovich's] biography". She explains why in the following passage:
When Shostakovich informed Galina Serebryakova (a friend of his youth recently returned from the camps) that he had joined the Party, she was astounded; she had assumed he was a Communist as far back as the 1920s. Khachaturyan, Oistrakh, Karayev, Kondrashin, and many other friends and artists he respected had long belonged to the Party. Indeed, it should be remembered that to all appearances Shostakovich was already a "loyal son" of the Communist Party when he joined. He had ceded unconditionally his signature, his voice, his time, and his physical presence to all manner of propaganda legitimising the Party. Especially since the Tenth Symphony, he had even devoted a disproportionately large portion of his music to the greater glory of Socialist Realism. He was a role model for the status quo, a malleable symbol of the fusion of civic responsibility with artistic genius, of popularity with professional respect. As an actual member of the Party he could give nothing more. But this episode -- with his distraught reaction, escape, and creative catharsis -- strongly suggests that the demons Shostakovich wrestled with were his own, that he had crossed his own line in the sand. He was neither the first nor the last to realize, too late, that the path of accommodation with the Soviet system was one of no return. [p. 219]
This is the heart of Laurel Fay's conception of Shostakovich: what she thinks of him and how she understands his motivations. We have already seen that her central assertion -- here: that "he had ceded unconditionally his signature, his voice, his time, and his physical presence to all manner of propaganda legitimising the Party" -- is based on the naive misapprehension that Shostakovich had any choice in the matter. He did not -- and nor did anyone else in his position. Since everyone in the USSR was obliged to cooperate with the system or face the consequences, Fay's claim that "[Shostakovich] was neither the first nor the last to realize, too late, that the path of accommodation with the Soviet system was one of no return" can be seen, even by the layperson, for what it is: pretentious nonsense.
No one who survived Soviet rule for any length of time did so without complying with state requirements, but to surrender one's inner freedom was an entirely different matter. The pattern of secret dissent was well-established: do what was required of one, short of signing denunciations, and maintain integrity in all other aspects of one's life. This was how millions upon millions of Soviet citizens lived -- and how they survived intact, even during the worst excesses of the Terror. Fay's melodramatic belief that "the path of accommodation with the Soviet system was one of no return" would be greeted with amazement anywhere other than in the secluded field of Western musicology. It is evidently too much to expect her to have researched Soviet history, literature, or related studies -- but it is surely fair to expect her, as a musicologist, to have read Jasper Parrott's biography of Vladimir Ashkenazy, where the pianist's enforced "accommodations" with the KGB and his strategies for resisting their requirements are described in some detail. Ashkenazy escaped unharmed from Fay's alleged "path of no return". If she had troubled to read his book, she would have saved herself the embarrassment of this gaffe. (Did she derive this assumption from Richard Taruskin? He has certainly made comparable remarks.)
The Party card
Fay's vagueness about the realities of life under the Soviet system naturally extends to a lack of acquaintance with the "Party card" syndrome whereby certain positions in Soviet society could not easily be maintained without formal Party membership. As long as a simulation of orthodoxy was offered on demand, such pragmatic Party affiliations need have no connection with what the individual member believed in; "carriers of a Party card" were married out of convenience, not love. Fay writes that "Khachaturyan, Oistrakh, Karayev, Kondrashin, and many other friends and artists [Shostakovich] respected had long belonged to the Party". Belonged? Yes. Believed in? Certainly not. As for Shostakovich's willingness to tolerate Party membership among those he knew and worked with, his attitude, far from ideological, was moral: if the person was a decent human being, all was well. If he or she was decent and also happened sincerely to believe in the onward march of Marxism-Leninism (etc), Shostakovich was wry, but still tolerant. For example, on 30th April 1960, he wrote to Glikman of a new work by a mutual friend, performed by a respected, if politically incompatible, mutual acquaintance: "I was greatly impressed by the Violin Concerto by M. S. Vainberg which is wonderfully played by the violinist-communist L. B. Kogan. It's a wonderful work. And I mean it. And the violinist-communist plays it great." (The phrase "and I mean it" is added to stress the sincerity of "a wonderful work", which in Shostakovich's normal deadpan parlance would have meant the exact opposite, just as the phrase "a splendid fellow" was his standard code for "he's an informer".)
Like Leonid Kogan, the novelist and screen-writer Galina Serebryakova (1905-1980) was a real believing communist -- and, in her case, something of a hardliner. It is a measure of Fay's lack of acumen as a biographer that she devoted no time to primary research on Serebryakova's relationship with Shostakovich, which is, as yet, wrapped in the fog of conjecture. The impression given in Wilson's excerpt from Serebryakova's 1971 memoir (op. cit., pp. 96-7) is that her acquaintance with the Shostakovich family during the 1920s was slight; Solomon Volkov, however, claims that she was Shostakovich's "one-time lover" (St Petersburg, p. 335). Serebryakova was married in turn to two leading Old Bolsheviks: Leonid Serebryakov and Grigori Sokolnikov. Both men were arraigned in the second of the three big show-trials of the mid-1930s (that of the so-called "Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Centre" in January 1937), being shot as a result. Meanwhile, Serebryakova, as their "associate", was denounced as an enemy of the People, publicly pilloried (following the "rule of two") alongside her fellow novelist Boris Pilnyak, expelled from the Writers' Union, and sentenced to twenty years in the Gulag. Amazingly, she survived -- a testament, perhaps, to her hardiness and willpower, but also to the probability that, as an obstinately believing communist who had authored a trilogy of novels on the life of Karl Marx, she was spared the worst of the camps and may even have been classified as a "trustee" with the cushion of privileges attached to that status. Solzhenitsyn certainly believes her to have got off lightly (The Gulag Archipelago, I, p. 540). Serebryakova was released in the 1950s, emerging with her earnest ideological faith unsullied. (Such diehards were looked upon with silent contempt by the majority of zeks.) Writing her own "camp memoir", she declared Solzhenitsyn's comparatively bowdlerised One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to be a counter-revolutionary "exaggeration" of life in the Gulag. During 1963, she joined Sholokhov in denouncing the liberal writer Ilya Ehrenburg and continued to adhere to the hardline throughout the 1960s. Why she had any pull with Shostakovich is a mystery, unless it was purely sexual. (He agreed, in 1965, to compose music for the film A Year As Long As A Lifetime, based on her Marx trilogy, but seems to have had no stomach for it and produced a poor score.)
Fay observes: "When Shostakovich informed Galina Serebryakova[...] that he had joined the Party, she was astounded; she had assumed he was a Communist as far back as the 1920s." Since no one who knew Shostakovich well in the 1920s would have mistaken the "politically deficient" composer for a Party member, this further suggests that Serebryakova was acquainted with him only superficially at that time. Her later presumption almost certainly derived from a belief that so prominent a Soviet personage was unlikely to have formulated a Soviet career without the aid of a Party card. In other words: what is significant about Serebryakova's amazement is not that she was positively convinced of Shostakovich's orthodoxy (for no one who, unlike her, had been "in the world" -- i.e., not in the Gulag -- between the Terror and the Thaw would have believed that); rather, her surprise is a measure of how resolute Shostakovich had been in managing to avoid joining the Communist Party until the advanced age of 55. For, contrary to the impression Fay strives to convey, Shostakovich was a recognised figurehead of creative resistance in the Soviet arts -- which is why he was attacked so often by communist critics from the outset of his career and why those at the Leningrad premiere of the Eleventh Symphony who did not grasp its "subtext" were heard to grumble that the composer, whose music had meant so much to them under Stalin's dictatorship, had sold out (Wilson, p. 319). To claim, as Fay does, that Shostakovich was "a role model for the status quo" and "to all appearances already a 'loyal son' of the Communist Party when he joined" is the most egregious misrepresentation in her book.
"The greater glory of Socialist Realism"
What makes this -- Fay's culminating calumny -- so especially deplorable is that it is hidden within a section of "circumstantial" narrative rather than set out clearly and boldly as the author's own personal opinion about the composer (for instance, in an Afterword). Worse, it is given without any consideration of balancing factors, so that readers unequipped to cogitate on the workings of Soviet society are likely to believe what the author feeds them, no matter that it is based on little but wish-fulfillment. As it happens, Fay takes an obvious step too far in asserting that "since the Tenth Symphony, [Shostakovich] had even devoted a disproportionately large portion of his music to the greater glory of Socialist Realism". Of the sixteen works in the composer's opus-list between the Tenth Symphony and the Eighth Quartet, only four can be said to display a sufficient semblance of conformism to be counted as potentially puzzling to anyone in the USSR who followed Shostakovich's career: the 5 Dolmatovsky Songs, the two folksongs of Opus 104, and the music for the films Song of the Great Rivers and The First Echelon. Given that no films made within the Soviet bloc could be anything but dutifully obedient to the requirements of the censor, every film for which Shostakovich wrote music was inevitably conformist by definition. As we have seen, he did almost all of his film scores during times of loss of income from other outlets, such as the banning of his concert music in 1948. This accounts for Song of the Great Rivers, the last of the overtly propagandist films for which he was obliged to prostitute his talent in the years following the 1948 bans.
As for Socialist Realism, The First Echelon fails to meet Stalinist requirements in that, adopting the "Thaw" aesthetic of mid-1950s Soviet cinema, its political theme (Khrushchev's "Virgin Lands" drive to promote agriculture in Kazakhstan, Siberia, and the Urals) is merely a background to the depiction of "social problems" among its characters (casual sexuality, drinking, brawling). Barely more canonically Socialist Realist is the historical swashbuckler The Gadfly, while Moscow, Cheryomushki is a tepid "allowable satire" of the kind tolerated by the authorities in the magazine Krokodil. This leaves the Concertino, Second Piano Concerto, First Cello Concerto, Sixth and Seventh quartets, the reorchestration of Khovanshchina, Spanish Songs, song-cycle Satires, Festive Overture, and Eleventh Symphony. Unless one believes the Festive Overture to be an expression of sincere Communist fervour and cannot accept that the Eleventh Symphony is other than blunt exaltation of 1905, one must ask where -- apart from in Fay's imagination -- do we find the "disproportionately large portion of music [devoted] to the greater glory of Socialist Realism"? Nowhere.
The Eighth Quartet
In Fay's obtuse conception, the composer's near-fatal collision with the apparat over the question of joining the Party "strongly suggests that the demons Shostakovich wrestled with were his own, that he had crossed his own line in the sand". We may certainly assume Shostakovich to have recognised a "line in the sand" -- this being his horror of joining a political Party which had jailed and/or killed hundreds of people known to him and which, on more than one occasion, had driven him to the edge of suicide (including two periods in which almost nobody outside his family spoke to him for months on end for fear of ending up face down on the floor of a cell in the Lubiyanka being flogged on the legs and spine with rubber straps). Such a "line in the sand" is not difficult to sympathise with. Moreover, unless Fay means to indicate the breed of subhuman monsters who, with their bestial cruelty, reduced Meyerhold and thousands like him to wailing infants, no demons need be invoked.
Fay, whoset methodology ensures that every page of her book is strewn with unreconciled contradictions, has the gall to play down the searing testimonies of Lebedinsky and Glikman regarding Shostakovich's hysterically shattered state of mind at this time as "contradictory". This "contradiction", we learn, consists of the fact that Glikman believed Shostakovich to have been pressured to join the Party by a member of the Central Committee, whereas Lebedinsky thought the pressure came from "low-level functionaries looking to feather their caps with such a trophy". And that is all. The rest -- the composer's flight from Moscow, his desperate drinking and tearful breakdowns, his suicide kit of sleeping-pills -- is, to Fay, not as important as the vexed issue of the apparat rank of those who drove him over his personal line.
There can be no doubt that joining the loathed Communist Party was a catastrophe for Shostakovich. His son Maxim recalls: "My father cried twice in his life: when his mother died and when he came home to say 'They've made me join the Party'. This was sobbing -- not just tears, but sobbing." Maxim adds: "There was simply no other way for him at that time." Fay, though, will have none of this. What, she asks, was the big deal of joining the Party when, allegedly, Shostakovich already looked as if he belonged to it? Surely he could have refused if he had sincerely desired not to? This line of argument is, in turn, attached to her regular recital of one of the most nauseating rigmaroles of Western received wisdom about post-1956 Soviet society: that it was vastly more relaxed than it had been under the dictatorship of Stalin and that no one in prominent positions needed to be afraid of speaking their own mind or going their own way.
The regimes of Khrushchev and Brezhnev may not have been built on slave-labour nor held sway by slaughtering millions of their subjects, but they were nonetheless enforced by the same intricate system of surveillance and censorship predicated on the victimisation of those they saw as counter-revolutionaries. Penalties for breach of conformity included loss of income, expulsion from union membership, vilification in the Soviet press, summary imprisonment (processed through kangaroo courts), and -- in many respects dreaded by post-Stalin dissidents more than a straightforward term of hard labour in the Gulag -- incarceration in a Soviet psychiatric ward, there to be driven to the verge of madness and personality-loss by the use of crude hallucinatory drugs, sensory deprivation, and confinement in physically deforming strait-jackets. The younger generation of dissidents, less conditioned to expect maltreatment at the hands of the authorities, rarely took such possibilities seriously. Knowing the risks, people of Shostakovich's generation were far more cautious. Shostakovich himself, with his many private losses and intense experience of terror and "unpersoned" isolation, would have been especially careful.
Apparently possessing no conception of what actually went on behind the facade of Soviet power, Fay is happy to report Shostakovich's lack of "willpower to resist his fate" and "infernal cowardice" (p. 218) without offering any "balancing" perspective. Why not? Again it is unclear whether her historical ignorance is wholly genuine or partly feigned in order to allow her to misrepresent Shostakovich. When she tells us that what happened in 1960 is "one of the most puzzling episodes of his biography", one cannot help agreeing that it is certainly puzzling in Fay's biography, if nowhere else. This in turn raises the question: does she make it appear to be so deliberately?
In truth, there is nothing "puzzling" about the circumstances attending the Eighth Quartet or Shostakovich's induction into the Communist Party. After 1956, the Cold War entered a new phase in which rivalry between the USSR and the USA became displaced into areas less direct than nuclear confrontation, chief among these being the space-race and the field of culture. The Soviets needed to rationalise things on the "arts front" (especially after the Pasternak affair of 1958, which badly damaged their prestige abroad); hence, Shostakovich -- questioned at every opportunity by foreign journalists concerning his opinion of the 1948 conference and his attitude to the Party's "guidance" -- needed to be "defused" as a figure of cultural controversy by formally bringing him into the Soviet fold. Thus, following the successful premiere of the Eleventh Symphony in 1957, the apparat set about integrating Shostakovich into its propaganda operation. The chairmanship of the Tchaikovsky Competition, the Lenin Prize, the removal of the Formalist stigma applied to him by Zhdanov -- these were gestures calculated to demonstrate to the West that Shostakovich was restored to state approval. All that remained was to show that the composer, in his turn, approved of the state. Thus, at the Kremlin reception for the intelligentsia in February 1958, Shostakovich was required to toast "the Communist Party and its Leninist Central Committee, the Soviet Government, and the Soviet People". The decree on the resolution of 1948 followed, as effect follows cause, three months later. Shortly afterwards, Shostakovich's name appeared under a piece in Pravda (13th June 1958) offering fulsome appreciation of the recent decree and claiming that he had been "deeply moved by the manifestations of the Communist Party's care and attention for Soviet music and Soviet composers". (In his standard history of Soviet music, Boris Schwarz admits that he finds the tone of the composer's Pravda statement "somewhat curious... as if he had never been personally involved".)
The scheme to purvey Shostakovich as an obedient conformist continued in 1959 when he was sent to America with a delegation of Soviet composers headed by his arch-enemy Khrennikov. Described in Musical America as "highly nervous, a chain-smoker with darting eyes and fidgeting hands, ill at ease most of the time", he was asked by reporters whether he still believed that the USA was a nation of "war-mongers". In no position to deny the spurious Waldorf Astoria speech of 1949 in which this sentiment had been expressed, he embarrassedly explained that he had always been friendly to the USA and that his remarks ought not to be taken to refer to the American people as a whole. "Cautious and noncommittal", he later declined to answer questions about the Lady Macbeth affair on the grounds that he was "too tired". Though some witnesses were struck by the strangely mechanical unanimity of the six Soviet composers on show, the damage had been done: in the eyes of the outside world Shostakovich was confirmed as an orthodox Communist. The logical next step was to make this an incontrovertible fact. Thanks to Fay's inefficacy as a primary researcher, we still don't know precisely how and by whom the pressure was applied, although it is clear that, on returning to Russia, Shostakovich was informed that the Soviet government wished to reappoint him First Secretary of the RSFSR Composers' Union, but that this would require him joining the Communist Party.
Like Manashir Yakubov, Fay reports that Shostakovich told Irina darkly that he was "blackmailed" as part of this apparat operation. Fay, though, brushes the possibility aside, preferring to believe that he acquiesced out of "chronic fear" rather than that the KGB (for whom blackmail was an absolutely standard part of their repertoire) had played any part in forcing the composer's hand. Until the secret police archives on Shostakovich come to light, we will have to reserve judgment. Obvious enough targets for blackmail existed in the form of his children, then setting forth on their careers and hence vulnerable to "spoiling" orders from above. Possibly Margarita Kainova, who seems likely to have been a KGB plant, informed on him. (Again, Fay lets us down by failing to find out anything new about her.) Whatever the truth, Shostakovich had no way out and gave in. On 7th September 1960, a week before the ratification of his candidate membership, he "contributed" another article to Pravda, hailing Party ideologist Mikhail Suslov's minimal redefinition of Socialist Realism and attacking Schoenbergian serialism:
We do not conceal that we reject the right to fruitless formal experimentation, to the advocacy in our art of pessimism, scepticism, and man-hating ideas, all of which are products of the individualism on the rampage in the contemporary bourgeois world.
The first of a series of similarly philistine articles "by" Shostakovich in Pravda over the next decade, this was received in Russia as a major policy statement, setting the seal on Shostakovich's new orthodox image both at home and abroad. This time the damage was serious, even those sympathetic to his predicament finding his total acquiescence to the demands of the regime mystifying. Commenting on the Pravda piece, Boris Schwarz wrote, disapprovingly: "Shostakovich, whose usual prose style is angular and artless, may not have written this pretentious drivel, but he signed it and thus identified himself with its propaganda content." Yet refusal to cooperate would have driven the composer back into the wilderness and rebounded on his family and friends. Committed to producing an art of honesty in a culture of lies, he had long ago made the decision that what people thought of him was less important than ensuring they had the chance of being emotionally confronted by his music.
Part of the bargain for signing on the Party's dotted line was the unbanning, after fifteen years, of the Eighth Symphony, while soon the Fourth, too, would be finally allowed to see the light of day. Furthermore, he could debunk the fake Shostakovich who regularly sounded off on the Party's behalf in Pravda by continuing to write music equally as dissident. Thus, a fortnight after the announcement of his candidate membership of the Party, the Eighth Quartet was premiered in Leningrad, disguised as a piece about "fascism", but in fact reassuring those with ears to hear that, far from acting out of his own free will, Shostakovich was, as usual, being pushed about by the authorities. Those who have read The New Shostakovich may recognise the last few paragraphs of this review as almost direct quotations from pages 223-4. Fay had my alternative exegesis "available" to her while she was writing her account of these matters. She ignored it, preferring to paint Shostakovich as a cowardly conformist.